In May of 2008, I attended a Centering Prayer Presenter-Formation Retreat at St. Mary‚Äôs Retreat Center, Sewanee, Tennessee. On the night of May 18, we all participated in group lectio divina. The words from the Gospel of Mark scripture reading that reached out to me were ‚Äúgiven to me.‚Äù Ruminating on those words, I asked God over and over, ‚ÄúGod what are you saying?‚Äù I was the only person in the circle that night who had no words to share about what God might be saying. I could only say that I knew God was reaching out to me with the words ‚Äúgiven to me‚Äù but had no idea WHAT it meant.
During the restless night, I recalled parts of a scripture I had pondered since 1999. Only the next afternoon did I look up the full scripture reference I remembered from so many years before. It was Isaiah 45:3: ‚ÄúI will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord …‚Äù Each year since 1999, I had written this scripture in my new year‚Äôs journal and pondered again what it might mean. What treasures? What darkness? What secret places?
Then nine years later on a mountain top in Tennessee as I repeated the words ‚Äúgiven to me, given to me, given to me,‚Äù a meaning was revealed. Centering Prayer had been given to me (as a gift), and Centering Prayer would open the treasures of darkness and provide riches in secret places.
At the end of the week, I was not certain I was called to present Centering Prayer Introductory Workshops but felt a deep need to communicate, support, and reach out to other Centering Prayer groups in our area.
Then in May 2010, I wrote to other Centering Prayer groups in and near Pensacola and asked them to pray and discern a desire to share Centering Prayer beyond their own group as part of a Contemplative Outreach Network. As a result, 17 of us came together on July 17th to pray, share and discern the Spirit‚Äôs leading.
We met again in September for prayer and fellowship. In October John Kelsey, the former Contemplative Outreach Regional Coordinator, visited and provided a Facilitator Workshop and led us in visioning.
John encouraged and reminded us to be led by the Spirit. With eyes, minds and hearts wide open, we founded a chapter that covers the area between Pensacola and Tallahassee. Hands were raised to serve on a Servant/Leadership Team, and I committed to being the coordinator.
As a chapter our highest priorities are offering 7-week introductory workshops, supporting Centering Prayer groups and offering resources and retreats to those seeking God through Centering Prayer. We do this through a Servant Leadership Team which makes decisions through collaboration and consensus.
Contemplative Outreach of NW Florida